Tough new voice for watch­dog

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS -

A SE­NIOR leader at the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion is join­ing Aus­tralia’s cor­po­rate watch­dog as the reg­u­la­tor ratch­ets up its ef­forts to crack down on mis­con­duct.

Karen Ch­ester will join the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion as a deputy chair for a five-year term start­ing on Jan­uary 28, suc­ceed­ing Peter Kell.

She is ex­pected to bring a voice for tougher en­force­ment and a strong fo­cus on com­pe­ti­tion and im­prov­ing out­comes for con­sumers.

It’s a fur­ther strength­en­ing of the ranks at ASIC, which has been pum­melled at the bank­ing royal com­mis­sion and by politi­cians and con­sumer groups for fail­ing to tackle mis­con­duct in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor.

Ms Ch­ester is deputy chair at the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion, where she con­ducted a thor­ough re­view of ASIC’s en­force­ment fail­ures in 2015.

ASIC has been gear­ing up to take a more ag­gres­sive foot­ing in its deal­ing with rogue fi­nan­cial out­fits with the ap­point­ment ear­lier this year of Daniel Cren­nan, QC, as chief lit­i­ga­tor.

The ap­point­ment of Ms Ch­ester will re­in­force in­ter­nal pres­sures for the reg­u­la­tor to take swift ac­tion against com­pa­nies in court.

In Ms Ch­ester’s cur­rent Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion in­quiry into the $2.7-tril­lion su­per­an­nu­a­tion sec­tor, ASIC and sis­ter agency the Aus­tralian Pru­den­tial Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity were heav­ily crit­i­cised for fail­ing to en­sure funds acted in mem­bers’ best in­ter­ests.

Ms Ch­ester is also a for­mer Trea­sury of­fi­cial and economist with con­sul­tancy Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics.

Karen Ch­ester.

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